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Perhaps lesser known to non Europeans, the Algarve is a place of immense diversity and natural coastline in Southern Portugal. Think of it as a more affordable, wild and authentic riviera. Here one can get a taste of small town Portuguese life mixed in with world class resorts, harbors, golf courses and shopping centers.
The Algarve is beautiful and stylish without being pretentious. You don’t have to worry about finding authentic products, people and experiences, they exist everywhere in this Mediterranean paradise. Hotels and resorts like the Hilton and Conrad offer excellent hospitality and larger rooms than are typical in Europe.
A place of history:
One can find stones and caves reaching back to signs of human settlement for over 3,000 years. The Romans left their mark on this coast especially at Milreu, near Estoi. Evidence and sites which show the occupation of the Moors and activities from the Templar Knights can also be found.
The 300 plus days of sunshine mean that no matter how great your resort is you need to get outside. A great tip is to visit in February, prices are way down due to low season but the warmth is still present. Fishing is popular along Rio Formosa, Golf courses are some of the best we’ve seen in Europe, Cycling is popular along the beach or the winding roads from town to town. Running and hiking, kayaking and swimming are also popular.
Each town along the coast feels like a neighborhood. Villamoura is the site of beautiful resorts and homes. The Monchique area which is a mountainous backdrop to the coast is full of tightly packed towns with traditional farming products, cultural celebrations and welcoming locals. Villa Real de San Antonio on the border with Spain offers a cultural blend and is a beautifully planned city. Faro has the sea as its centerpiece and so many little places in between are distinct. Cape St. Vincent has some of the best Panoramic cliff views in the whole country.
The souvenirs one can collect here are most notably home goods and foodstuffs. Olive oil is prized, linens are made locally, pottery and cork come from local artists. The market has delectable wines and fresh fish always ready and some great outlet stores and fashion brands are available like in Quinta do Lago.